Wales captain and British & Irish Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones is set to make his return from injury in Ospreys’ PRO12 semifinal at Munster this weekend.
Wyn Jones hasn’t features since Wales’ defeat to France in the Six Nations on March 18, and Ospreys coach Steve Tandy had to prevent his second row from playing in the derby defeat to Scarlets on the final day of the season.
“You could see how important the region is to him that he wanted to put his body on the line and play against the Scarlets, but with a points difference of 73 over Ulster, it was in many ways a dead rubber, even if we didn’t play it in that regard,” Tandy told Wales Online.
“He wanted to put himself in harm’s way and play, even with a Lions tour to New Zealand coming up. That epitomises everything he is. I had to stand him down and say: ‘No, you’re not playing this weekend’. It ain’t easy, telling a player who has led the Lions that he shouldn’t play. He is desperate to represent the Ospreys shirt and that is the mark of the man.”
The 24-hour debate around whether or not to play Wyn Jones against Scarlets was put to bed after Tandy took medical advice on board as well as the fact the Ospreys had all but secured passage to the PRO12 semifinals.
“He wasn’t particularly happy, but that’s the mark of the man. As coaches we have to take certain individuals out of harm’s way when we feel they could benefit from a bit more extra time to prepare for what’s ahead.”
“It’s amazing that he’s come through this injury as he has, because most other rugby players wouldn’t be anywhere near making a return to rugby at this point,” Tandy added. “The danger is that people will think just because Alun Wyn is back it will solve all our problems.
“It doesn’t. All the other players will have to pull their weight and do their jobs, because he can’t go to Munster on his own. Before the past five or so games, we’d played as a team all season. Without him for much of the season, the boys delivered.
“So it isn’t going to be a one-man band. That said, he’s doing to help us with our leadership and resolve. He’s an unbelievable rugby player, a colossus of a man, a colossus of a human being. He’s the total package.
“For big games, you want your British and Irish Lions in the environment and you want them playing games.”